CEW recently gathered for the Female Founder Awards to honor "the women who have disrupted beauty," as CEW president Carlotta Jacobson put it.
These brand founders have left comfortable day jobs, broken Instagram, planned out businesses from dining room tables, launched direct-to-consumer product ranges, formed new categories like clean beauty and all have endeavoured to empower other women.
Madison Reed: a founder's story
Before the ceremony, Global Cosmetic Industry editor in chief Jeb Gleason-Allured sat down with Amy Errett, founder and CEO of Madison Reed, to discuss the company's innovative rise and the skills required of a successful founder.
The full list of honorees were as follows:
- Amy Errett, CEO and founder, Madison Reed
- Lauren Gores Ireland, co-founder, Summer Fridays
- Marianna Hewitt, co-founder, Summer Fridays
- Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO, Beautycounter
- Vicky Tsai, founder, Tatcha
- Nancy Twine, founder and CEO, Briogeo Hair Care
The awards were followed by a panel discussion led by Shiseido's Jill Scalamandre.
Renfrew, who came to beauty with financial expertise, noted that the hardest part of building her business had been getting contract manufacturing to come on board with clean beauty. She joked that some of these manufacturers had nicknamed her company "Brutalcounter" for its tough stances on ingredients.
She added that competition in the clean beauty space is a positive, creating allies in the fight to update cosmetics regulations in the United States, a core focus of Beautycounter.
Errett, who has a VC background, noted that male investors didn’t initially understand size of the at-home hair coloring market. She also praised Glossier’s 1-billion-plus valuation, which she said should hearten every woman in the industry.
Errett added that women have to "have huge outcomes" in order to be taken seriously by male investors. She noted that it was therefore important for women leaders to fund other female founders to generate greater opportunity.
Hewitt concured, noting that the path for Summer Fridays was blazed by the female-led brands that came before it, making it easier to be "taken seriously."
Twine, whose loss of her mother helped propel her purpose-driven brand, said it was difficult to predict what the future would hold for her brand but noted that Briogeo was expanded into the wellness space soon.
Errett concluded the panel discussion by noting that "great brands are about the why."